AMC Networks, Bertelsmann, NALA Invest in Online Video Site DramaFever
COLOGNE, Germany – DramaFever, an online video platform specializing in foreign-language programming for North American viewers, has closed a further round of funding, picking up $6 million in investments from AMC Networks, German media giant Bertelsmann and Mexico’s NALA Investments, the holding company backed by that Azcarraga family that founded Spanish-language media conglomerates Univision Communications and Grupo Televisa.
Other key investors in DramaFever in this latest round include Allen DeBevoise, chairman and CEO of gaming entertainment network Machinima, and Matt Coffin, founder of LowerMyBills.com.
DramaFever co-founder Seung Bak told THR that the company sees the investors less as a source of capital than as future strategic partners as DramaFever looks to expand, both in North American and internationally.
“The money is nice but the real reason we did this we these partners is because we want to build our business,” Bak said. “Within North America, we want to acquire more content and expand our reach. Internationally, we are looking at new territories with Europe, South America and Australia high on our agenda.”
AMC, whose flagship U.S. cable channel airs such cult series as Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, has also been actively building a global network based on its Sundance Channel. Germany’s Bertelsmann, which owns FremantleMedia, makers of American Idol, is one of the largest producers of TV content worldwide. NALA’s previous media investments included a substantial stake in Twilight producer Summit Entertainment.
DramaFever launched in 2009 as an online platform offering East Asian films and TV shows, with English subtitles, to a North American audience. Unlike more art house-focused video sites such as MUBI, DramaFever is unabashedly mainstream, selecting its programming largely based on local box office or ratings success. According to its own figures, DramaFever claims two million unique advertising-supported visitors a month, 75 percent of which are of non-Asian descent.
Bak told THR he hopes to leverage the new partnerships to expand DramaFever’s U.S. offerings to include Spanish and other non-Asian foreign language programming. Bak said Latin American content and Bollywood films are two content areas he’s looking to expand first. Bak did not give specific information about DramaFever’s international expansion plans, except to say he hopes to take the video platform to selected international territories “within the next 12 months.”
To help facilitate its expansion, DramaFever has brought on Sandy Grushow, a former chairman of Fox Television Entertainment Group, as a strategic advisor.